ASU baseball's inconsistency reflected in rain-delayed rubber match

The Sun Devils lost another Pac-12 series with a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Washington.

ASU baseball and Washington were scoreless through the first 3 1/3 innings of Sunday's rubber match before the expected rainfall hit Phoenix Muni. After a 2-hour, 25-minute delay, the Sun Devils mustered just one run on two hits en route to a 6-1 loss. 

Head coach Tracy Smith talked about the need for consistency after Saturday's win, but Sunday's performance reflected the inconsistency that has hurt ASU (17-12, 4-8 Pac-12) this season. 

Smith said the rain delay shouldn't be an excuse considering both teams sat through it in their respective circumstances. 

The only instance in which the delay perhaps favored Washington (16-11, 7-5) is because the Huskies had standout reliever Troy Rallings in their holster. Following the delay, he pitched the last six innings and gave up just one run on two hits. 

"I felt pretty good going back out there," Smith said. "I would have liked to have seen us be a little bit more competitive in our (at-bats) during early in the game, because I think they were trying to do exactly what we were trying to do — steal some innings early...

"I knew they were trying to make it a short game and hand it over to (Rallings) in either the fifth or sixth, and it worked our perfectly for them because they got through those three innings without us doing any damage to them."

Freshman right-hander Chris Isbell received his first career start and threw a solid 3 1/3 innings of three-hit ball with three strikeouts until the delay. Smith said Isbell gave the team more than the coaches were expecting. 

Washington's Greg Minier and Ryan Schmitten combined to pitch before the rain started before Rallings stole the show. 

After the delay, sophomore lefty Reagan Todd took over on the mound for ASU. He inherited runners on first and second with one out, but worked out of the jam to keep things level. But in the top of fifth, he walked in the game's first run with two outs. 

Following Todd, Lingos came in with the bases loaded and gave up a two-run single to Joey Morgan (1-for-4, 2 RBI) on his first pitch. 

Ryan Lillard hit a one-out double in the seventh inning and advanced to third on a grounder. Lillard, who had ASU's only two hits of the afternoon, then scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 3-1. 

Smith noted that his team was putting balls into play, which was evidenced by the fact that it only struck out three times. However, the Sun Devils left just four men on base, so they didn't put many runners on either. 

"The most disappointing piece for me when you look back at the box score is that we only left four guys on (base), too. We weren't threatening," he said. "Kind of tough to score runs when you don't have guys on base, but we're going to have to find a way. There is no choice. This is our team, this is what we have this year, and we've got to get better and we will continue to try to do that."

Washington's three-run eighth inning all but sealed the series loss for the Sun Devils, who had been struggling mightily at the plate all afternoon. The runs were all credited to sophomore righty Ryan Hingst. ASU used five pitchers after Isbell, which was highlighted even further because of Rallings' performance for the Huskies. 

Smith was asked about dealing with the bullpen situation when the team doesn't have a consistently reliable reliever besides junior Eder Erives, who has moved to a starting role the past two weekends. 

He turned his answer to the bigger picture of his squad, which has won just one Pac-12 series to this point and now hosts rival Arizona on Tuesday at 7 p.m. He said the group isn't playing with the type of consistency needed to win in the Pac-12. 

"I don't think it's a lack of guys trying, I don't think it's guys not working hard," Smith said "...We've got enough talent in that room to piece together two games on a weekend. 

"I don't know that we have a World Series championship team sitting in that locker room, but I think we've got a team that has enough to win two games a weekend. I'm a little disappointed how that kind of unfolded this weekend ... I don't think that's an unrealistic expectation to win series the rest of the way."


Reach the reporter at Justin.Toscano@asu.edu or on Twitter @justintoscano3.

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